Author and researcher Brian Wansink noted “So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot.” He explains that the problem with this mindless autopilot or mindless eating is that “each of these small decisions is a point where a person can be unknowingly influenced by environmental cues.”
These mindless decisions about eating are influenced by a multitude of distractions in our environment and the people within our environment.
More specifically to the variety of food; it’s packages, aromas, descriptive names given foods, ease of access, merchandising and packaging, variety, size of serving plate, or etc.
Here are 5 tips to prevent environmental cues from influencing your food choice and to create a more mindful awareness to overcome mindless autopilot that drives mindless eating and overeating;
1 – Select one aspect of your mindless eating such as snacking out of an original box instead of out of a portion control container and develop a strategy to overcome it, such as always portioning out our snacks. Once this is mastered move on to the next.
2 – Do not let your responses to environmental influences create negativity. Think mindfully and positively – become aware of your negative self talk; that mindless chatter in your thoughts like; “Why did I do that stupid thing.” or “I shouldn’t have eaten that …” that can influence your emotions, sabotage your best intentions and trigger overeating.
Change it to positive self talk like: “I am doing so well with …” or “We all have an occasional relapse, I will do better next time.” Your mind can only hold one thought at a time.
3 – Develop an awareness of eating – When you eat, make that the focus. Do not include eating with other tasks in your environment like watching TV, driving, while on the telephone or surfing the net.
4 – Be aware of patterns like eating the same foods day after day or in the same environment or at the same time; change it up on occasion.
5 – Seek out friends in your environment who support you in your efforts and not sabotage them.
If you find that you are being influenced to eat mindlessly by comments like “lets split a slice of cheesecake when you intention is not to eat rich desserts like cheesecake, it may be time to ask your friends for more support and less temptations.
Sources: Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Decisions We Unknowingly Make; Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake; http://www.news.cornell.edu/; http://eab.sagepub.com/content/39/1/106.refs; http://eab.sagepub.com/; http://www.obesityresearch.nih.gov/
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